Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The one where Soren didn't have enough feet...

Players: James, Gareth I, Gareth II, Barrie, Neil, Michel, Soren, Jon, Ravi, Woody, Philip, Tom, Dan, Andy

It was nice to see Ravi again tonight, and also Andy, who had been mysteriously absent since before Christmas. This evening was dominated by much cube-pushing, although to be fair, the cubes in Pantheon are actually feet…

Dan and Andy cosied up for some nice one-on-one action, and James found himself consulting an online strategy guide 10 minutes into his new game. There must be a law against that or something…..

This game surely has one of the worst titles out there, but is a lovely little filler with a unique component – the bell! Barrie, Michel, Ravi and Tom joined Jon on the quayside and began to auction their fish with gusto…
Both Tom and Jon made the schoolboy error of not winning any auction during a round, and so were unable to sell anything until their next turn. Ravi and Barrie were buying up most of the ocean, whilst Michel was more circumspect is his fishy acquisitions.
The end of the game suddenly occurred and when the money was totaled, minus the fish that had ‘gone bad’, it was revealed to have been a very tight finish, with Michel proving to be the best fish salesman…just….
Michel £67; Ravi £65; Jon £63; Barrie £60; Tom £43

Coup (thanks for this report Neil)
Coup hit the table for Philip, Woody, James, Soren and Neil.
With James tucking in, an interesting discussion took place about the morals of the card game ‘Black Lady’, and whether she could still be called that or ‘Lady of Spades’ even, Phillip came up with the wonderful expression ‘colourally [pronounced col-laurelly] challenged’ lady!
Anyway, as ever Dukes were to the fore although there was also a smattering of Captains. Soren nearly self-destructed early on but left that to me, one down. James and Phillip started picking on each other, successfully, so down to Soren and Woody with both lives intact. And that’s where the rule book came out and somehow Soren was awarded a possible dubious, if not impressive victory from where he found himself early on!

The Castles of Burgundy (thanks again Neil)
The third enactment following the banishing of last week’s hero, Sir Tom of the Online Castles. His replacement, coming from similar lands was San Michel de Mont San-Michel. His accent disturbed Barrie of Up Nerth so much he misguidedly opted to design a new estate, apparently more difficult. Indeed, my own scribblings of the selection report that ‘Barrie - was difficult’. The rest of the brave knights chose the original estate, much more to the King’s pleasing as will become evident. Gareth of Architekton, and Neil of the South Folk (oh, that’s me!) made up the valiant foursome.
With the others fighting over ‘birds’ – no Barrie, that was ‘boats’ - movement was seen along the starting track and thus over the ‘bone of power’ or whatever descriptions were attached to the white die. I dug in, literally, mining away to my heart’s content and also collecting buildings. Aha! An early lead, and quite a substantial one too. Now how the hell am I going to stay out ahead? Well a packed field of pigs for starters - I always like a healthy starter.
As ever, the animals in their pastures were popular, Barrie going after cows, Gareth the chickens and Michel ‘chips’ – no Barrie, that’s sheeps. More boat action was seen and Gareth swiftly completed his castle realm for a good bonus; he was also picking up some useful goods and traded them well taking a comfortable second spot on the score track.
As the phases progressed Barrie began bemoaning the dice and had to turn to the always dubious strategy of taking men. Michel began to fill up some larger segments of his estate, and traded well too. Once again Gareth missed the boat… but had now overtaken me anyway, and I was very busy having severe doubts about ignoring the boats completely, although my buildings were mooring themselves into my estate nicely.
Whilst some of the bonus tiles had been ignored Barrie picked up the park as it sat well within its own space on his slightly lacking estate. With only myself not packing all five acres of pasture with the same animal, the scoring became tight until Michel suddenly making a massive move from slightly behind to way out in the lead, just as we thought his online training had been in vain. In fact, he must have an unassailable lead, wow, impressive. I managed to complete three areas late on and with some useful building bonuses maybe I could get close?
As the final scoring progressed Gareth moved to within spitting distance of the magic 215 points. My building bonuses took me slightly further to a 221, and then Michel killed me off with his collection of silverlings and men - he took victory by the widest margin of 1 point, damn! Gosh, I’ve missed him out haven’t I? Even with a good collection of trade bonuses Barrie made his point; the board was far too difficult!
Michel 222; Neil 221; Gareth 213; Barrie 172-182 (not that it makes much difference!)

Soren had bought this Euro along, and with Jon, Gareth II and Ravi also looking for something fairly meaty to play, he had his cohort. This game is played over 6 rounds, with each round being played out in a slightly different part of an ancient Mediterranean map. Players must use movement points to travel around the local environs, picking up bonus tokens and placing columns. Sacrifices can be made in order to win the favour of various gods, who will grant special abilities either as a once-off or throughout the game. The game comes with some nice wooden feet – or Feeples if you prefer…
At the beginning, everyone got a different bonus tile to start with, and Jon was given the ‘place a single column anywhere’ token. Not having played the game before, it was difficult to gauge where best to place the column, and despite Soren’s offer to re-draw the tile, Jon decided to plonk it right in the middle of the board. Although this turned out to be probably the worst place to put it, it did set Jon’s strategy, which ultimately wasn’t a bad thing.
The first few rounds were quite slow, as players tried to work out what was best to do, and attempted to build their ‘engines’. Soren had an early extra ‘foot’, so could move around the map more efficiently. Ravi was picking up lots of cards, as well as victory point tokens. Gareth and Soren were majoring on lots of God tiles, whilst Jon was trying to place as many columns as possible, and pick up as many victory point coins, with the help of some extra ‘feet’ and other exploring bonuses.
Halfway through the game, the scores were very tight. The speed then increased rapidly, partly due to Jon’s ability to race around the map, picking up a couple of bonus tiles and laying a column all in one go. Gareth had jumped on the ‘column train’ at this point, realizing that their value increased substantially if you could place 8 or more. Unfortunately for him, Jon finished the game just before he could place his 8th column. The scores were totaled and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th places were very close. However, a combination of 9 columns and lots of victory point coins had allowed Jon to finish the game with a commanding lead.
Verdict? A solid game with some nice mechanisms. However, there is a certain amount of luck in the card draw (Soren spent several turns without any ‘feet’ to explore with, and Jon didn’t pick up any money cards for 2 whole rounds. As it turned out, Soren had all the money and Jon had all the feet…) The game is also too long for what it is – 60 to 90 minutes would be perfect, but this is more like a 90-120 minute game.
Anyway – still a fine way to while away a Wednesday evening….
Jon 76; Ravi 54; Gareth II 50; Soren 47

Macao (thanks Philip)
Philip, Tom, Woody and James played this curious euro. The game revolves around the accumulation of little wooden cubes of various colours. The cubes are then used as currency to get goods to ship to Europe, move your ship, activate cards, and change the turn order. Everyone has the same opportunities to get cubes and each turn faces the dilemma: more cubes later or fewer cubes sooner. When you receive cubes you must spend them: if you don’t receive cubes in a given round you get a penalty (-3VPs). You also get penalties for having too many cards unactivated.
I underestimated the importance of going first and soon found myself last and a long way behind on the “wall” (meaning I would stay last). This meant I was last to pick a card each round which in turn meant I picked up quite a random assortment of cards.
Tom managed to activate “Senor Violetta” quite early on, earning him a purple cube each round (at a cost of 4 purple cubes up front). I managed to activate “Mrs Red” only on the last round, for a net loss of 3 red cubes. One of the best types of cards doubles your points for delivering a certain type of good (although matching the name of the good to its icon is a game in itself!). I was first to deliver with my “Silk Storage” earning 16 VPs for 2 lots of Silk. But everyone managed to mimic my feat, Tom for even more VPs thanks to his 1 VP per good delivered card.
Me and Woody had cards that benefited us for being in first and last place respectively, but Woody was unable to use his because James clung to last place until late in the game, and I only used mine once before being overtaken.
James was most successful in activating a set of cards that worked well together, selling cubes for coins, buying cubes with coins and so on. Tom was almost as good at this. Everyone except James took a penalty during the game for too many cards unactivated, and everyone except James also took a penalty at game ends for having cards unactivated then. James took a penalty for having no cubes though so that evened up.
When buying goods if you buy goods next to each other you get bonus points at the end of the game- James was much the best at this part. Tom however had the edge in actually delivering the goods, while if I hadn’t had 8 VPs in bonus points from cards at game end...
Tom 62; Woody 50; James 46; Philip 43

The long Euros had finished – time for a 10 minute dash around a temple! James, Jon, Soren, Ravi and Dan were the temple-runners, with Ravi being the slightly confused newbie.
The curses and treasures were both used, but the valiant adventurers still managed to collect their booty and escape with over a minute left on the clock.
Fast-paced fun…

Just time for one more game of Coup – with Soren, James, Jon and Ravi being joined by someone else that may have been Tom (or Dan for that matter). Anyway, somehow Jon managed to stay out of the firing line, and won the game for what he claims is the first time at IBG. That’s about as dubious a claim as his “I’ve got 2 Dukes” effort…

Elsewhere in the room, Andy and Dan were thrust together to form a cosy little twosome tonight, as they managed to start a game of Agricola:ACBAS just before the 3 long Euros started, condemning themselves to 2-player action for most of the evening. Anyway they both appeared to have fun with this game, and also Sentinels of the Multiverse, although I think that Andy may not be venturing anywhere near Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards again….

We return again at the same time next week….

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